Energy Glossary

Have you ever been baffled by complex words and phrases used in your electricity or gas plan, and want to know exactly what they mean? Find out here with Savvy!

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, updated on July 27th, 2023       

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Energy Plans - Compare Energy Plans in Australia

The energy industry can be confusing, with its own acronyms, terms, words and phrases. This energy glossary aims to simplify things by providing clear definitions of important words and phrases. Whether you're a homeowner, business owner, or just curious about energy, this comprehensive glossary from Savvy will help you understand all those energy words you've often wondered about. 

Glossary of common energy terms in Australia

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is a regulatory authority that oversees and enforces energy market rules to ensure the interests of consumers are protected. The AER regulates energy retailers, networks, and wholesale electricity and gas markets.

A Basic Plan Information Document (BPID) is a document that provides essential information about an energy plan. It includes key details such as contract terms, pricing, fees, and any additional conditions associated with the plan.

A benefit period, also known as a fixed benefit period, refers to the set time during which a customer receives particular benefits under an energy plan. For example, a discounted rate or promotion may be applicable for the first 12 months of the contract. If the contract is terminated during the benefit period, an exit fee may apply.

A conditional discount is applied to your energy bill based on certain conditions or agreements. For instance, if you pay your bill in full and on time, you may be eligible for a pay-on-time discount. 

A consumption charge, also called a usage charge, is the cost of the electricity or gas you consume. It is calculated based on the amount of energy used during a billing period. 

The contract term, also known as a fixed term or contract length, refers to the duration of an energy contract. It specifies the start and end dates of the agreement, commonly either a year or two years. 

Controlled load refers to a specific tariff or rate applied to certain appliances such as underfloor heaters, pool filters and electric hot water systems. The rate charged for controlled load appliances is usually lower because they operate during off-peak hours. 

By law, customers have a cooling-off period of 10 business days after signing up for a new energy contract to cancel the contract and not pay any exit fees. 

The Default Market Offer (DMO) is an annual electricity price cap implemented in New South Wales, South Australia, and South East Queensland. It sets a limit on the prices that retailers can charge customers on standing offers, ensuring protection against excessive prices. 

A demand charge is an additional component in an electricity plan that includes regular usage and daily supply charges but with demand charges added on top of these. 

A Detailed Plan Information Document (DPID) provides comprehensive information about an energy plan. It includes detailed terms, conditions, pricing structures, and other important details related to the plan. 

An electricity or gas distributor owns and operates the infrastructure, such as power lines, poles, and gas pipes, that delivers electricity or gas to homes and businesses. 

A company that produces electricity or gas. 

Energy ombudsmen in each state and territory provide a free and independent dispute resolution service for energy customers who have a problem with their gas or electricity provider. 

Many gas and electricity appliances have red and yellow energy rating labels on them. The label gives you an indication of how energy efficient the appliance is. 

The company you pay for the gas and/or electricity you use. Some customers have the same retailer for both electricity and gas. 

An exempt seller is a retailer who purchases electricity or gas from an authorised retailer and resells it to customers in multi-dwelling premises. Examples include caravan parks and multiple occupancy apartment blocks. 

An exit fee, also known as a cancellation fee, termination fee, or early termination fee, is a charge imposed when a customer terminates an energy contract before the agreed-upon end date.

A feed-in tariff (FiT) is an arrangement where customers with solar panels or other renewable energy systems can receive a credit or payment for the excess energy they generate and feed back into the grid. 

An Australian Government renewable energy accreditation scheme. It lets electricity retailers buy renewable energy for you or your business.

A discount that you receive automatically when you sign up for a plan. 

A program to help residential customers who are having difficulty paying their electricity and/or gas bills. All retailers must have a customer hardship policy. 

This is a form of renewable energy that harnesses the power of flowing or falling water to generate electricity. Hydroelectricity involves the use of water dams or reservoirs to create a controlled flow, which drives turbines connected to generators. 

An incentive is a benefit or reward provided to customers, often beyond monetary discounts, to encourage them to choose a specific energy plan or engage in certain behaviours. Incentives can include non-price benefits, one-time price reductions, or gifts aimed at attracting and retaining customers.

A kilojoule is a unit of measurement used to quantify the amount of gas consumed. It is equivalent to 1,000 joules and is commonly utilised in energy calculations and billing for gas usage. 

A kilowatt is a unit of measurement used to quantify the rate of electricity consumption or generation. It represents 1,000 watts and is commonly used to express the power output or demand of electrical devices and systems. 

A kilowatt hour is a unit of measurement used to quantify the amount of electricity consumed over time. It is equivalent to the consumption of one kilowatt of power for one hour, and serves as the standard unit for electricity billing purposes. 

Liquefied natural gas is natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state for ease of transportation and storage. Market retail contract: A market retail contract is an electricity or gas contract offered by energy retailers that includes terms and conditions beyond those specified in standard contracts. These contracts may feature additional benefits, discounts, or unique pricing structures.

A megajoule is a unit of measurement used to quantify large amounts of gas energy. It is equivalent to one million joules and is commonly used in industrial and commercial applications where gas consumption is substantial. 

A megawatt is a unit of measurement used to express the rate of electrical power generation or consumption. It represents one million watts.

A megawatt is a unit of measurement used to express the rate of electrical power generation or consumption. It represents one million watts.

A megawatt hour is a unit of measurement used to quantify the amount of electricity consumed or generated over time. It is equivalent to one million watt hours and serves as a standard unit for measuring electricity consumption. 

A Meter Installation Registration Number is a unique identifier assigned to a gas meter connection by the distributor. It is used by distributors and retailers to identify the connection point.  

A meter reading is the process of recording the electricity or gas consumption indicated on the meter.

The National Metering Identifier is a unique 10 or 11-digit number assigned to an electricity connection point at a specific address. The NMI serves as a standard identifier for electricity meters.  

An off-peak tariff is a pricing structure in which electricity is charged at a lower rate during specific periods when demand is typically lower, such as overnight or during weekends.  

A payment plan is an arrangement between an energy retailer and a customer to help manage the payment of electricity and/or gas bills.  

A peak tariff, or peak rate, is a pricing structure in which electricity is charged at a higher rate during periods of high demand, typically during the day or evenings on weekdays.  

A pre-payment electricity meter allows customers to purchase electricity credits in advance. They enable customers to monitor and manage their energy usage by paying upfront. 

Photovoltaic panels, commonly known as solar panels, are devices that convert sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic effect.  

The reference price is a standardised base rate that energy retailers use to compare and market their energy offers. It serves as a benchmark for customers to assess the competitiveness of various energy plans and helps prevent excessive pricing. 

Renewable energy refers to energy generated from naturally replenishing sources, such as sunlight, wind, water, or geothermal heat.  

An energy retailer is a company authorised to sell electricity and/or gas to consumers. Retailers purchase energy from generators on the wholesale market. 

A shoulder tariff, or shoulder rate, is a pricing structure in which electricity is charged at an intermediate rate between peak and off-peak periods. They typically apply during periods of moderate demand. 

A single rate tariff, also known as a flat rate, standard rate, or anytime rate, is a pricing structure in which electricity is charged at a consistent rate regardless of the time of day.  

Smart meters, also known as interval meters or advanced meters, are electricity meters that record energy consumption at regular intervals throughout the day. They transmit usage data directly to energy retailers enabling accurate billing. 

A solar contract is an agreement between an electricity retailer and a customer who installs a solar power system and is connected to the main electricity grid. The contract defines the terms and conditions for solar energy generation, feed-in tariffs, and other relevant aspects of solar energy usage. 

A solar feed-in tariff (FiT) is an arrangement that allows customers with solar power systems to receive credits or payments for excess electricity they generate and supply back to the grid.

The electricity generated by solar panels. 

A standard contract, also known as a standing offer, is a basic energy plan offered to residential and small business customers. 

A supply charge, also called a fixed charge or standing charge, is a fixed cost to get electricity or gas supplied to your home or business.

Switching refers to the process of changing energy providers or plans. 

The price of electricity or gas under an energy plan. The tariff includes two parts: supply charge and usage charge. 

Some energy plans split your energy usage into different tariff blocks. This means you pay one price for the first block of energy you use, then a different rate or price for the next part of your usage. 

A type of tariff that charges customers different rates for electricity depending on when it is being used. The different times are often called peak, shoulder, and off-peak. 

The amount of electricity or gas you use. 

A usage charge, also called a variable charge or consumption charge, represents the cost of the electricity or gas you consume. It is calculated based on the amount of energy used during a billing period. 

A variable rate, also known as a market rate, refers to a pricing structure in which the price per unit of electricity or gas can change over time.  

The wholesale market is the sector of the energy market where generators and retailers trade electricity or gas in large quantities. It involves the buying and selling of energy at the wholesale level, typically through contracts or spot market transactions, and sets the prices for the energy retail market.

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Savvy is partnered with Econnex Comparison (CIMET Sales Pty Ltd, ABN 72 620 395 726) to provide readers with a variety of energy plans to compare. We do not compare all retailers in the market, or all plans offered by all retailers. Savvy earns a commission from Econnex each time a customer buys an energy plan via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased directly, as all purchases are conducted via Econnex.

Any advice presented above is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an energy plan. For further information on the variety of energy plans compared by Econnex, or how their business works, you can visit their website.